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Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy: A Book Review

Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart
Author: John Guy
Genre:  Nonfiction, Biography, History
Publisher: Mariner Books
Release Date: 2004
Pages: 608
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: In the first full-scale biography of Mary Stuart in more than thirty years, John Guy creates an intimate and absorbing portrait of one of history’s greatest women, depicting her world and her place in the sweep of history with stunning immediacy. Bringing together all surviving documents and uncovering a trove of new sources for the first time, Guy dispels the popular image of Mary Queen of Scots as a romantic leading lady — achieving her ends through feminine wiles — and establishes her as the intellectual and political equal of Elizabeth I.

     Through Guy’s pioneering research and superbly readable prose, we come to see Mary as a skillful diplomat, maneuvering ingeniously among a dizzying array of factions that sought to control or dethrone her. Queen of Scots is an enthralling, myth-shattering look at a complex woman and ruler and her time.


     Note: Awards for this novel: Winner of the Whitbread Award for Biography and National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
   
     My Review: Mary, Queen of Scots has captured many imaginations today. Indeed, the latest historical tv drama, Reign, focuses on the young life of Mary, Queen of Scots. She is portrayed in history as a femme fatale who uses her beauty and charms and manipulates those around her to get the throne of England. She is also portrayed as a failed ruler whose country would have been better had she never been queen at all. However, in John Guy’s biography of Mary, Queen of Scots portrays her as a woman of intelligence, and was educated and trained to rule her country skillfully enough. She tries to incorporate her Renaissance ideals into her reign and on Scotland, only to be met with great hostility from the powerful Protestant nobles of her court who plot to dethrone her because she is a woman and a Catholic. Mary then must use her wits to maneuver her way through the labyrinth of a plethora of conspiracies that wish her downfall to try to be Scotland’s successful queen.

     Mary, Queen of Scots was queen at only six days old when her father James V died in battle against the English. Because Mary was too young to rule, and because it was dangerous to stay in Scotland, Mary’s mother and regent of Scotland, Marie of Guise, sends her to France to live with the royal family. At the French court,  she was immersed in Renaissance culture and had a great education where she studied the classics. As a teenager she married the dauphin of France, Francis II, and eventually she became queen of France. After Francis II died, she decided to be go back to Scotland and rule her country rather than staying.  However, once she arrived in Scotland, Mary is met with enemies, one of those who is the leader of the Protestant Reformation, John Knox. Across the Scottish border, Mary also has another enemy, Elizabeth I. Mary then strives to fight to assert her reign over Scotland.

     Overall, this is a sympathetic account of Mary, Queen of Scots. Her reign is filled with betrayal, murder, religion dominance, and political intrigue. Although the book is very readable, it can be dry at times. It tends to tell every detail of Mary, Queen of Scots’s everyday life. However, it has a very detailed account about the mystery of the murder of Lord Darnley. The book also answers all the questions of Mary, Queen of Scots. I recommend this book to those who are interested in learning about Mary, Queen of Scots, the Elizabethan, Tudor, and the Renaissance era.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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